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More robust retail strategies mooted in Wales

Words: Roger Milne
Porthmadog High Street

Local planning authorities will be required to develop more robust retail strategies in their local development plans, according to new proposals designed to safeguard town centre vitality.

The government has proposed a range of changes to Planning Policy Wales (PPW) and Technical Advice Note 4 (TAN4).

The aim is to ensure that town centres get as much help as possible to thrive in what is a rapidly changing retail environment.

The revisions to chapter 10 of PPW and the amended version of TAN4 come in the wake of recommendations of a consultant’s review last year.

They include a requirement for "stronger emphasis" to be placed on the need for local development plans to have policies framed by retail strategies, a recognition that local planning policy should have the flexibility to reflect market changes and a requirement for local development plans to "set out a locally derived hierarchy of centres". It also included the introduction of clearer guidance on uses that are subject to the sequential test.

"As local authorities are best placed to determine local need and local solutions, the Welsh Government has asked them to take on the role of ‘lead partner’ to bring forward coherent schemes to tackle the decline of our town centres and coastal communities," said the administration.